I’ve always enjoyed Science Fiction, as is fairly obvious from the fact that I’ve chosen to add my own fiction to the established canon (most notably The Anomaly). I’ve always been attracted to fiction that is set in a different place, at a different time, and forces us to address difficult questions with at least some grounding of scientific plausibility.
Unfortunately, I’ve also mostly been terribly disappointed by the majority of the Science Fiction I’ve read. I don’t mind escapist nonsense in the context of a movie or a television series, but in a sense I expect written fiction to offer just that little bit more and most Science Fiction I’ve read has been terribly short on whatever it is I’m looking for.
And that’s a shame because I desperately want to enjoy what I’ve read. But so often a combination of wooden characters, uninspiring plots and banal socio-political views leaves me wondering why I ever bothered. Science Fiction is supposed to draw you in; not drive you away.
However, there are Science Fiction writers I enjoy. Margaret Atwood. Doris Lessing. Malcolm Bradbury. Frederik Pohl. Brian Aldiss. Ursula Le Guin.
And the now soon-to-be-late Iain (M.) Banks.
I don’t know why Iain M. Banks is a favourite, but he is. His utopian vision of a possible future, coloured by a realistic view of the problems attendant on any political solution and his attempt to keep at least some of the science on this side of plausibility are amongst the reasons. He isn’t a great stylist, but he is a pretty good story-teller. Some of his characters are memorable, although most are not, but his uncompromising steady gaze on the human condition and the greater scale of the universe allows the reader to ponder not so much on the players in his novels but the greater setting in which they operate.
In short, he is a Science Fiction novelist whom I will truly miss.
And his non-Science Fiction novels are pretty good as well.